(Netherlands Flag)


(Netherlands Map)


THURSDAY, AUGUST 22, 2013:

Today I flew from Venice, Italy to Amsterdam for a 3 night stay.


The video below is 22 minutes long of my flight to Amsterdam.


Upon arrival I checked into my hotel, the Swissotel centrally located right at Dam Square.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

The Damrak in Amsterdam The Swissotel in Amsterdam

The video below is 3 minutes long of my accommodations in Amsterdam.


The weather was pretty gloomy on my first day in Amsterdam.
After getting settled at my hotel I took a cruise through the canals of the city.
Central Railway Station in Amsterdam Amsterdam Canal Amsterdam Canal

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 22, 2013
Howdy All,

My cruise is over, I disembarked from the beautiful Royal Princess at 8:00 this morning. I was taken directly to the Venice airport for my flight to Amsterdam. It was a smooth flight on a KLM 737. Flight time was just over 90 minutes. We flew over some mountains in Austria on the way.



We landed here in Amsterdam at 1:40 this afternoon and I got to my hotel around 3:00. Big difference in the weather here. Very gloomy here, completely overcast, and temps in the low 70s. The first time in over two weeks that the sun hasn't shined. I am staying at the Swissotel right on Dam Square in the heart of the city. Below is a picture of the Damrack, the main street in town. My hotel is the building with the flags.



Just to the left of the picture above is the Royal Palace.



And looking the other direction from the picture above is more of Dam Square.



After getting settled at the hotel I walked to the end of the Damrack to Central Station. I got on a boat and took a canal cruise.



None of these pictures are that great. The gloomy day makes everything look gray.



Below are the most expensive homes in the city, they'll set you back about 5 million euros.



People also live in houseboats along the canal, like the one pictured below.



That was it for today. I'm tired, I stayed up way too late last night and only got about 4 hours sleep. I will be spending 3 days here in Amsterdam. There was a three day gap between the end of the cruise and my Baltic tour. I have never been to the Netherlands, so it sounded like a good place to kill the time.

More to come,

Tim



FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 2013:

Weather was beautiful on Friday.
The Royal Palace on Dam Square Amsterdam's Dam Square National Monument, with the Damrak on the left

I took a walk around Amsterdam in the morning.
Amsterdam department store Amsterdam Canal

The video below is 44 minutes long of my three days in Amsterdam.


At noon I ventured out into the Netherlands countryside.
Our first stop was in Marken where we visited the shoemaker.
After the shoemaker we walked through town and boarded a boat bound for Volendam.
The Dutch Countryside Marken, Netherlands Marken, Netherlands

in Volendam we visited the cheese factory and had free time for lunch.
Volendam, Netherlands Volendam, Netherlands Volendam, Netherlands

Our last stop was at the beautiful Zaanse Schans Windmills.
Volendam, Netherlands Zaanse Schans Windmills Zaanse Schans Windmills

The video below is 23 minutes long of my Netherlands countryside tour.


MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 23, 2013
Dutch Greetings!

It was a beautiful day in Holland today. Bright sunny skies and temps in the upper 70s. This morning I walked around the city a bit. Below is another picture of Dam Square. It looks much better with blue skies.



The building below is a shopping center. I assume it used to be something else.



Picture below is looking down one of the canals.



This afternoon I took a tour out into the Dutch countryside. There are no suburbs in Amsterdam. Once you leave the city you're in the country. Very flat here. A lot of the land area here is actually below sea level. There is a 300 kilometer long dyke that protects the country. The first stop on our tour was Marken. A traditional fishing town that was once an island. A picturesque village with wooden houses built on stilts to protect them from flooding. We visited a local shoemaker to watch him make wooden shoes. That's the shoemaker on the left in the picture below. I should have bought Barbara some clogs.



We didn't spend much time in Marken other than the touristy stop at the shoemaker.



From Marken we took a half hour boat ride across the lake to Volendam.



Volendam is a very pretty town.



In Volendam we visited the cheese factory and sampled some local cheese. Then we had about 90 minutes to explore the town on our own or have lunch. I settled for my usual afternoon dose of ice cream.



Our last stop of the day was Zaanse Schans, best known for its massive, well-preserved windmills.



It was a really cheesy tour (pun intended), but the countryside was beautiful and the weather was perfect.



I am now in a quandary as to what to do tomorrow. I have a day tour booked for Brussels, Belgium. But the forecast for Brussels is for an all day steady rain. I am not sure if I want to spend 3 hours on a bus each way to be rained on. It's not supposed to rain here in Amsterdam. Not sure what I will do.

Until next time,

Tim



SATURDAY, AUGUST 24, 2013:

Weather was nice Saturday morning as I did a little more exploring in Amsterdam.
Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam IAmSterdam sign behind Rijksmuseum Westerkerk Church in Amsterdam

I used the tourist bus to get around the city.
Amsterdam Canal Amsterdam Canal Amsterdam Canal

I battled gloomy skies and a little rain Saturday afternoon when I visted Delft.
Delft, Netherlands Delft City Hall The New Church in Delft

After leaving Delft we made a photo stop at the Peace Palace at The Hague.
Our final stop of the day was at Madurodam.
Peace Palace at The Hague Madurodam

The video below is 14 minutes long of my visit to Delft, the Hague and Madurodam.


MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 24, 2013
It's me again. You must be tired of hearing from me by now. But I'll continue anyway. I decided not to go to Brussels today like I had planned. Instead I spent the morning here in Amsterdam. The weather was nice this morning. The first stop I made was at Rijksmuseum.



The grounds of the museum are really pretty. At the back of the museum is one of the "I amsterdam" signs. I also saw one at the airport and at central station.



My next stop was in the Jordaan area of the city. Below is the impressive Westerkerk Church and it's very tall belfry.



Across from the church was a really nice houseboat. These houseboats never move and have all utilities.



Below is a nice view of the canal in this area. There is a big celebration in town today. Amsterdam's man made canals are 400 years old today.



Next door to the church is the Anne Frank House.



This afternoon I visited Delft, about an hours drive from Amsterdam. Delft is primarily known for its historic town center with canals; also for the painter Vermeer. Below is a picture of Delft City Hall and its surroundings.



Below is a closer look at the majestic City Hall.



Exactly opposite the City Hall on the other side of the Square is the New Church. It isn't too new, it was built in 1500. The pictures are a little dark. There was a light rain the rest of the afternoon. It was a really pretty old church but its hard to tell in the picture.



Next I visited The Hague. Only about ten minutes from Delft. Although Amsterdam is the capitol of the Netherlands, all government buildings and functions are at The Hague. Most foreign embassies and 150 international organisations are also located in the city, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, which makes The Hague one of the major cities hosting the United Nations. Below is the Peace Palace at The Hague.



Also located in the city is the famous miniature town of Madurodam. Small scale replicas of places in the Netherlands. Below is the Peace Palace seen above at Madurodam. Which picture do you like best? Real or fake?



This was a really neat place.



I could have saved myself a lot of walking and just come here. Everything in the Netherlands located in one small place. Below is the Rijksmuseum also seen above.



And below is Dam Square where I am staying. I looked for the model of the Swissotel, but they seem to have left it out.



But of course my favorite exhibit was the airport.



The cars on the freeway and the planes at the airport move and make sounds.



In just a few short hours I will be back at that airport as my time here in Amsterdam is now over. I am flying to Helsinki, Finland tomorrow morning to begin my 14 day Baltic land tour. I better get to bed now, I have to get up early for my flight.

Tim

SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013:

I flew to Helsinki, Finland on Sunday to begin my 14-day Baltic land tour.



The video below is 19 minutes long of my flight to Helsinki.


MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 25, 2013
Hello everybody,

Not much to report on for today. My flight to Helsinki left Amsterdam at 10:00 this morning. It was a nontop flight on a KLM 737-800.



It was foggy and bleak in Amsterdam this morning. But weather here in Helsinki couldn't be nicer, not a cloud in the sky. Helsinki is at the same latitude as southern Alaska. Below is a picture of Helsinki from the plane just before landing.



I was met at the airport by my tour director for the next 14 days. We were taken directly to our hotel. This hotel used to be a huge warehouse and they converted it into a hotel. You should see the big cavernous hallways. The name of the hotel is the Scandic Grand Marina. Rooms aren't up to my high standard, but it will do for one night.



This evening the group got together for the first time. We took a short drive around the city and had dinner. Most of the group is from Australia. There is one couple here from Indianapolis, so there are three Hoosiers here.

Tomorrow we are driving to St. Petersburg, Russia. We will be there for three nights.

Nothing else to report on for today. Much more to come.

Tim


Click on the arrow above to continue to my next stop, ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA!

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